Monday, May 01, 2017

Dyeing to Stitch Spring Retreat 2017

I was honored and delighted and a bit scared when Ann and Pat of Dyeing to Stitch asked if I would consider teaching at their retreat this Spring. The answer was a pretty easy YES. I have long wanted to take this next step in the designing business... or at least give it a try. But I had absolutely no frame of reference for what a stitching retreat would look like. Thankfully, I was in very good hands, and all of my silly questions were answered as I texted and phone called back and forth across the country.
The design was an easy choice. I already had it in my files, and had it stitched up in a heart-beat. From there, the kit came together pretty easily. A portion of the sampler printed onto card stock and laminated became the thread card, which later can be used as a book mark if so desired.

The kits came in a little cloth reusable produce bag with a drawstring opening. It was a plain bag to start with, then I had a local company print the saying from the sampler onto it.

And because I know just how much fun it is to get little free gifts, I had some small colored pencil sets made up with a printed cross-section, also from the retreat sampler.
There was also a smaller design that the Dyeing to Stitch ladies gave as gifts on Friday afternoon. I designed it using motifs from the class sampler and the words, "Stitch or Die".
Both designs will eventually be released to the public, but not until next year. So for now, if you weren't one of the lucky attendees, you'll just have to work on all of your other WIPs while you wait.

Of course, I didn't stop after getting the class sampler and pincushion ready. I also decided to make up some fun things to sell. By now, you've probably seen the Pendants and Frog Pickers (they can be found for sale in my etsy shop). It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work. By the time the retreat rolled around, I was REALLY ready for a rest.
I spent the day's travel updating my blog from the air and working on my presentation for the Saturday classes. I flew Southwest Airlines for the first time since I was in high school and remembered why I prefer Alaska. Not that I had a truly bad experience, I just like it better when I can get food on the plane and when I don't have to wonder what seat I'll end up finding.
Virginia Beach looked very green and very lush and very flat to me. It was really hard for me to tell exactly what the area looked like, because it was so flat. I'm used to always knowing where I am based on what hills are nearby. Where I live, the roads are rarely straight, and if there is a straight section, it becomes a landmark. "Where do you live?" "I live just before the straight stretch on ...." I always seem to forget that this isn't normal until I travel somewhere that doesn't have interesting topography. But the air was warm and smelled tropical and the sun felt so very good on my skin. There were green leaves and flowers and it was a very nice change from the cold and damp that I left behind in Oregon.
Thursday night and late into Friday morning was spent mostly in my hotel room recovering from the travel day and prepping for what was to come... And at last, the meet-and-greet-shopping-extravaganza time arrived. The Dyeing to Stitch shop was open from noon to 4, and you should have seen all of the goodies going out the door. Ohmygoodness. I don't know how you all choose what in the world you're going to stitch next. I rarely get out to see my LNS, and purposely avoid looking too much at what other designers are doing online (I don't ever want my designs to be influenced even unknowingly by others' artwork, which is hard when you spend any time at all on Pinterest and Instagram). Walking into this shop was a little overwhelming to me. I'm glad that I was just there to smile and talk to people and not to make choices. But I sure had fun watching THEM shop their little hearts out.
My trunk show was set up in the front windows and at a table just inside the doors.
In addition to the pendants and frogs and already-released models, I also brought a few pre-releases just for those that were there that weekend. So if you see a design you don't recognize, that's why. All will be released at some point this year through my usual channels.
When I wasn't chatting with someone or helping at the counter, I was wandering around with my camera trying to take it all in. Ann and Pat have an amazing collection of shop models spanning years of the cross stitch industry. So many designers represented here. I'm not going to even attempt to name them, but I'm sure if you see something here that you want, you can contact your LNS or Dyeing to Stitch and describe it to them.
One of my very favorite moments happened during this open shop time. Four of seven women that had worked on His Eye is on the Sparrow together brought their finished samplers in to show me and we would have been very silly to pass up a chance to get a picture like this:
There were a few other stitchers that brought in finished Heartstring Samplery designs to show me. I see your pictures often, but to see them in person was so much fun for me. I'm not lying when I say that it still blows me away that you all are working on my creations. I know how much of an investment it is, both in time and materials, and there are SO MANY amazing designers out there. Each and every one of you that chooses one of my babies to re-create blesses my socks off.
And seeing them stitched over-one was pretty special. Would you believe that the lady who stitched these tiny samplers was one of the only ones present that DIDN'T need to use visual aids for her stitching? Yep. You know who you are... @susan_414   ;)
The hotel had a room set aside where we could go in the evenings to stitch our hearts out. I've never ever been in the presence of this many stitchers all at once before. It was a pretty cool experience.
Saturday morning dawned bright and warm, and the true test arrived. Could I manage to hold the attention of so many stitchers for the allotted time? And would they like their class sampler kits? Fortunately for me, they were a very friendly and generous bunch of people and they gave me so much encouragement and boosted my energy just from their smiles and kind words.

And... they rewarded my unveiling of the sampler with gasps and applause. Whew! The first class was the largest, and to be honest, they got the best energy out of me. And even though they got to witness my lack of experience, it didn't seem to bother anyone at all. My presentation really didn't have anything to do with the sampler itself, but instead focused on my life and how I became a cross stitch designer, complete with photos from my childhood.
In between the two classes, we all gathered for lunch and received lovely gifts from Pat and Ann, which included a darling hand-painted pantry box, a beautiful wooden corner gauge, and a thread ring made by LaDonna Snellbaker of Black Branch Needlework, which featured an image from the retreat sampler. I think we all felt pretty spoiled.
After a lovely lunch, the second class met. It was smaller and quieter and I had to keep reminding myself that it was not okay to lay down and take a nap in front of people. I also felt myself wishing a few times that I could be there as a stitcher that no one knew, just so I could sit and chat and make new friends. Everyone was lovely and sweet and I'm sure their life stories would have been amazing to hear. There was so much laughter too. It was really good to be in the company of so many members of my tribe (or cult, as someone put it).
That night we had a lovely dinner in downtown Virginia Beach, where I spotted a storefront that intrigued me. I wonder what's for sale on the inside...
And thus ended the official retreat weekend. But I had most of the day Sunday to wait for my travel time, so Pat and Ann took me to have some really yummy pancakes at a really unique spot a block off of the beach. If any of you are ever in Virginia Beach, and you aren't gluten intolerant, you really need to have breakfast at Pocahontas. Yummy!
And then, at last, after 15,486 days of living on planet Earth, this Pacific Coast girl got to meet the Atlantic Ocean. And there were dolphins.
Followed by some private linen shopping for me back at Dying to Stitch, after we packed everything up and finalized the weekend's books. It was such a truly enjoyable and delightful weekend, spending hours with Ann and Pat, who have so warmly welcomed me into their stitching family, eating good food, meeting so many fellow Cross Stitch Nation members. I can't say it enough, just how thankful I am to be part of this industry. You all are some remarkable people, all stitched together with lovely overdyed threads, to make a beautiful tapestry.

I hope I get to do more retreats and meet more of you in your own pockets of the world. For this trip did do one thing even more than all of the others that I've already mentioned... it showed me that I really like stitching retreats. And if the only way I can manage to be there is to be the teacher, then so be it.
My return flight home felt so long... by this time I was anxious to see my kids and sleep in my own bed. I had a few hours in the Chicago airport where I ate pizza that wasn't that great, and listened to some live music that really was great. Look up Keithen Banks some time online; I think you'll like his music too. I haven't had a chance to find his music on itunes or spotify yet, but if what's out there is anything like his live solo music, it has to be good.
I finally arrived back on my native soil after midnight, tired and with a head and heart full of unforgettable memories.

1 comment:

DebMac said...

You have made me homesick for VA Beach!. My career Navy husband and I lived there from 1993 to 2002 and I loved the shop Pat and Ann had then. I have been back only twice and this shop was closed both times. I stood outside and looked in and lusted. One of these days....
I have called a couple of times to track down fabric and they were more than helpful. If only they had a shop in the Midwest!